Shopping cart abandonment: Recapturing a lost sale

Abandoned carts cost e-commerce sites big dollars in lost sales. In fact, industry studies show that the average cart abandonment rate is between 50% and 60%, which means that more than half of the customers who begin the checkout process on your site fail to complete the purchase. To put it another way, if 1,000 people visit your site and 5% add items to their carts, only 23 people convert to a sale.

Some reasons are out of your control — like when an outside influence distracts or interrupts the shopper causing him to leave your site. However, most are within your control. Ambushing shoppers with outrageous or unexpected shipping and handling charges at checkout accounts for nearly half of all abandoned carts. Security and privacy concerns also contribute. Customers might also be concerned about returns or exchanges, delivery options that are too slow and an inability to pay through a preferred payment option. Frustrating cart design and technical problems during checkout also contribute.

In addition, more than one-third of carts are abandoned by someone doing comparison shopping online. Whether they do return to your site and their cart may depend on whether you reach out to them with a transactional abandonment e-mail.

A recent study we ran showed that even members of the Internet Retailer 500 performed poorly when it came to follow up or “reach back.” Fewer than 11% sent an abandoned cart e-mail.

Automated e-mail marketing, or event triggered messaging systems that use Web analytics and integrate customer profiles and dynamic content, give e-tailers the ability to respond automatically when a cart is abandoned in the timeframe they choose.

In your abandoned cart message, include the shopper’s name. Show the items the shoppers left in their carts and note that the carts will expire within a specific timeframe. Linking to the cart makes it easy for shoppers to complete their purchases. Often, simple reminders are enough to recapture the lost sale, but some shoppers require extra incentives like discounts or upgraded shipping.

The only way to know what will work for your audience is to test different e-mail campaigns. It won’t take long for you to discover your own best practices and see an increase in ROI.

Ross Kramer is CEO of Listrak. Reach him at [email protected]

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